Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Friday, 22 May 2015
The Waiting Room, May 21, 2015 ***
By Kylie Trounson, Melbourne Theatre Company Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre
Melbourne, until June 27, 2015 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars: *** Full review also published in Herald Sun online on Friday May 22, 2015, and later in print. KH.
William McInnes (Carl), Belinda McClory (Zoe), Brett Cousins (Raf): Photo Jeff Busby
Waiting Room, by Kylie Trounson, is in equal parts annoying and entertaining theatre
because some didactic dialogue and pointless scenes undercut the otherwise
affecting drama, wacky comedy and exceptional cast.
is the daughter of Australian IVF pioneer, Alan Trounson, and her script tries
to cover far too much ground: her
father’s early successes and failures, her parents’ marriage, ethical debates
about IVF, two childless couples facing IVF in 1978 and 2012 and a single woman
seeking a sperm donor.
addition to all of these narrative elements and a pile of research, Trounson,
played by Sophie Ross, places herself bang in the middle of her play to act as
– what? – a narrator, observer, participant?
here is the maddening bit: Kylie, the character, keeps interrupting the action
and interaction of her characters to talk to us, her dad and others about why
she is writing the play, agonising over its themes and narrative threads and convincing
us why she should be in it.
this unbalances the play, it is saved by impeccable performances by Greg Stone
as the unassuming Alan, William McInnes as Professor Carl Wood and comic
cameos, Belinda McClory as a despairing IVF patient, Brett Cousins as her daffy
partner, Kate Atkinson as a bevy of women and Ross as Kylie.
writer, Trounson, and director, Naomi Edwards, excised all informational,
expository dialogue that sounds like transcripts of interviews with research
subjects, and all preachy or philosophical arguments, this production would be
a more satisfying series of dramatic scenes intercut with funny vignettes.
and McInnes create a highlight with a gloriously touching scene in which Alan finds
his old friend and former colleague, Wood, suffering dementia, and the pair
dance in a poignant and intimate bear hug.
wrenches our hearts as Zoe, a woman devastated by repeated failures of her IVF treatment,
and the resulting furious argument with Cousins as her partner Raf is
is a joy to see Atkinson on stage again and her quirky humour and enchanting
persona bring charm to multiple roles, while Ross depicts Kylie with directness
script needs some savage editing to reveal a shorter, more intense and
effective piece of theatre that is currently buried under weighty research.
Greg Stone (Alan), Brett Cousins (Raf), Belinda McClory (Zoe); Photo Jeff Busby